Today’s Headlines – August 15, 2012

Today’s early morning highlights from the major news organizations, including reports that Medicaid is joining Medicare in the presidential campaign’s issue spotlight.

The Washington Post: Medicaid Shapes Up As Major Battleground
Mitt Romney’s choice of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) as his running mate has reignited a debate over the future of Medicare. But Ryan’s proposed cuts to Medicaid, the other huge federal health program, could have quicker and more far-reaching consequences, with the potential to dramatically affect state budgets and health care for millions of people (Somashekhar, 8/14).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: The Other Paul Ryan Plan: $800B In Medicaid Cuts
Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan for Medicare gets all the attention, but the GOP vice presidential candidate has proposed more fundamental changes to medical care for the poor and disabled (8/15).

For more headlines …

The New York Times: Obama-Ryan Battle Intensifies Over Medicare Savings
Representative Paul D. Ryan’s budget blueprint assumes the same amount of Medicare savings as President Obama’s health care law, even though Mitt Romney and Mr. Ryan have said those cuts would be devastating to millions of older Americans on Medicare (Pear, 8/14).

Politico: Beneath ‘Mediscare’ Talk, Who’s Right?
So you can forget about that high-minded “adult conversation” about entitlement spending that everyone says we ought to have. Obama doesn’t want it, Romney doesn’t want it and the National Republican Congressional Committee officially took it off the table this week with a memo advising candidates not to even utter the words “entitlement reform.” What we’ll get now is three months of “Mediscare” — with Republicans and Democrats warning daily that the other guy would throw grandma off the cliff (Haberkorn, 8/14).

NPR: Will Florida Seniors Accept Ryan’s Medicare Vision?
GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s choice of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate may help energize support from conservative voters who like his tough approach to overhauling the federal budget. But there’s a risk that Ryan may turn off an important voting bloc: senior citizens (Allen, 8/14).

The Wall Street Journal: Medicare Highlights Divide On GOP Ticket
With Medicare now at the center of the presidential campaign, an emerging point of contention is the $716 billion reduction over 10 years in the program’s growth enacted as part of President Barack Obama’s health-care law. What makes this battle unusual is the lineup on each side. Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan this year incorporated the Obama cuts. But presumed Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who just tapped Mr. Ryan as his running mate, says the cuts will gut Medicare, and he is pledging to repeal them (Landers, 8/14).

The New York Times’ The Caucus: New Ad Attacks Obama On Medicare
Mitt Romney‘s campaign signaled that it intended to fight rather than run from Democratic attacks over Republican Medicare policies, unveiling a new ad that stresses that President Obama cut $700 billion from the program (Shear and Wheaton, 8/14).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Debate Joined On Medicare; Romney, Obama Go At It
Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama in person and in TV advertising Tuesday of cutting Medicare “to pay for Obamacare,” launching a strong counterattack to Democratic charges that he and running mate Paul Ryan would radically remake the popular health care program that serves tens of millions of seniors (8/14).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Campaign To Expand Ryan Budget Opposition Beyond Medicare In Key Battleground States
President Barack Obama’s campaign is launching state-specific efforts to target elements of Paul Ryan’s austere budget proposals, expanding beyond its opposition to the Republican vice presidential candidate’s Medicare overhaul. The Democratic campaign is mobilizing its vast network of staffers and volunteers in key states to highlight Ryan’s proposals to cut funding for veterans care, clean energy and education — and link presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney directly to them. Democrats say those cuts would be just as damaging as Ryan’s proposed overhaul of Medicare, the popular federal health care program that serves tens of millions of seniors (8/15).

The New York Times: Two-Way Jabs On Medicare Recast Races For Congress
The fight over Medicare, the popular federal health care program for older Americans, is rapidly intensifying in House and Senate races around the nation after the selection of Representative Paul D. Ryan as the Republican vice-presidential candidate. Congressional Democrats and some analysts say that development could transform the fight for control of Congress, given his role as the author of a House-approved budget plan that would reshape Medicare (Hulse, 8/14).

The New York Times’ The Caucus: Negative Ad, A First For Akin, Goes Up In The Missouri Senate Race
After an ad released by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee criticized his positions on Social Security and Medicare, Representative Todd Akin is responding with an ad of his own that calls the attacks leveled on behalf of his opponent, Senator Claire McCaskill, “misleading, deceptive, false.” The 30-second spot is the first negative ad released by Mr. Akin, who made a point of running only positive ads during the Republican primary race (Berg, 8/14).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Not Poor Enough: In Some States You Can Be Below The Poverty Line And Not Qualify For Medicaid
Many working parents like Pico are below the federal poverty line but don’t qualify for Medicaid, a decades-old state-federal insurance program. That’s especially true in states where conservative governors say they’ll reject the Medicaid expansion under Obama’s health law. … Governors in those five states have said they’ll reject the Medicaid expansion underpinning Obama’s health law after the Supreme Court’s decision gave states that option. They favor small government and say they can’t afford the added cost to their states even if it’s delayed by several years. Some states estimate the expansion could ultimately cost them a billion dollars a year or more (8/14).

The New York Times: A Giant Hospital Chain Is Blazing A Profit Trail
HCA’s robust profit growth has raised the value of the firms’ holdings to nearly three and a half times their initial investment in the $33 billion deal. The financial performance has been so impressive that HCA has become a model for the industry. Its success inspired 35 buyouts of hospitals or chains of facilities in the last two and a half years by private equity firms eager to repeat that windfall (Creswell and Abelson, 8/14).

Los Angeles Times: Nonprofit Hospitals Face State Hearing On Tax-Exempt Status
A California state auditor’s report shows that nonprofit hospitals have significant leeway in determining how much charity care they provide to the neediest patients. A state Senate committee will discuss that issue and others at a hearing Wednesday as part of the debate over whether nonprofit hospitals do enough to justify their tax-exempt status (Terhune, 8/14).